A Live Controversy


News Messenger Articles

February 24, 1995

Judge Weighs Autistic Case

By Pat Hahn
Staff Writer

CHRISTIANSBURG - The mother of an autistic child waits for a judge's ruling to determine whether or not her child will be al­lowed to attend Montgomery County schools.

Roxana Hartmann said she went to court last Thursday re­garding the issue and is now wait­ing word from Judge Ray Grubbs. "Mark is actually enrolled in the school system but is not allowed to attend school," she said. On the day he was to have his Individua­lized Education Plan (I.E.P.) eva­luation at 3 p.m., she received a call from the school instead.

She also received a letter from the superintendent of schools and had to fill out a questionnaire. She said some of those questions were not relevant to residents. "I have proved residency," she said. She said the case is based on a legal appeal now going on in Loudoun County. Last year, she sued over her son's placement and the issue of changing placement.

She lost the first round, and he stayed put under provisions of the law. "There was no educational gain for 1-2 years," she stated. She said the program was at fault, and they were allegedly threatened by lawyers in the county. There was an injunction to remove Mark from the classroom. "My son has been blamed for the problems the school has," she said. She com­mented there is nothing stating you can't move.

Hartmann believes Montgomery County is using the appeals process in Loudoun County to keep her son from enrolling here. She is not sure when the appeal will be heard there but said it might be April. Hartmann said schools can get away with this type of thing, and if she was the one not sending him to school, she could possibly face going to jail.

"Each day that goes by is an­ other day taking away from his success," she noted. She said Mark does well in the right envir­onment. Hartmann said the most devastating thing of all is the fact the matter is totally out of her con­trol.

Thus far, Grubbs has not ruled in the Hartmann case.

In a letter, Herman Barlett Jr., superintendent of Montgomery County public schools, said the school system is willing to abide by the decision of the court and will provide a free education to the Hartmann child if the court upholds their claim to residence in Montgomery County.